In Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue, she used the word "tyke" instead of "boy" or "child". Do Americans use this word in a specific context? Her world in this novel is Darwinian, so I thought she might used some specific words to convey this Darwinian world.

  • 3
    I’m voting to close this question because it seemed to end up being a simple "usage of an English word" question which wasn't related to the literary context.
    – bobble
    Jul 19, 2021 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


To add to EJoshuaS's answer, "tyke" does have a colloquial or humorous connotation. I'm not familiar with this story, but if the word appears in dialogue then it's use is not important.

However, if it appears in the narrative, then Lowry may have intended for the word to have some importance: say, to reflect in some way the narrator's prejudices. Writers have been known to use language in that way to reveal things. But without specific examples, I can only speculate, & perhaps overthink an otherwise unimportant detail.

  • The word tyke in British English means a naughty or mischievous small child. In American English it just means a small child. tyke noun [ C ] (also tike) UK /taɪk/ US /taɪk/ tyke noun [C] (CHILD) Add to word list informal a young child: These new toys aim to engage tykes' brains. UK informal a child who behaves badly in a way that is funny rather than serious: Come here, you cheeky little tyke! From dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/… yesterday

"Tyke" is simply a word for a small child. That's why, for example, Little Tykes is a brand of children's toys.

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